Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte agrees with Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) officials that the fledgling region’s transition period must be extended by 3 years.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the President will “help” in efforts to amend the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the law that says the transition period will end in 2022 to give way to the Bangsamoro region’s first elections.
“He will help in amending the law but BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) officials have to talk to congressmen,” said Roque on Thursday, November 26, in a mix of English and Filipino.
“The advice of the President is it has to be a law because the elections of BARMM is in a law,” Roque explained.
It is the legislative branch that will have to initiate proceedings to amend the BOL. Duterte holds considerable sway among lawmakers, especially in the House of Representatives, where he holds a super majority.
No less than Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim has said that he and the rest of the transitional government, the BTA, need more time to build bureaucracy, pass foundational codes, and help former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants improve their quality of life.
The BOL gave the BTA 3 years to achieve this, but BTA members and civil society groups said the pandemic has delayed many aspects of the transition.
If the BOL is amended to extend the BTA’s life, the body will last until 2025.
An extension also means a 3-year delay in the BARMM elections of local government chiefs and parliament members, scheduled to take place on June 30, 2022.
It would give the MILF more time as leaders of the BARMM. The BTA is currently dominated by the MILF, the group that had forged the agreement with the Philippine government for the new autonomous region.
The passage of the BOL and the inauguration of the region in March 2019 is among the major milestones in the presidency of Duterte, who hails from Mindanao. – Rappler.com